Morgan HeritageAt a time when uplifting, positive roots reggae is becoming an endangered musical species, Morgan Heritage are allowing those who fret about the future of roots reggae to rest easy. Morgan Heritage's music is infused with a sense of spirituality handed down to them by their father, reggae star Denroy Morgan. The brothers and sisters known as Morgan Heritage don't drive around in a red, green, and gold school bus, but you could call them Jah Partridge Family.
Raised in a strict Rastafarian household, the Morgan children gew up with music as their principal pastime. "They wanted to go out and party like other kids of 15 and 16," recalls father Denroy. I said "No, let's party at home. We got the same records here. We've got a good stereo. Let's get some potato chips and some dips, and let's do it right here." His offspring laugh appreciately at the memory. "Now we see that it was a form of protection," says Peter. "We give thanks for the way we were raised."
Morgan Heritage's members, Mr. Mojo (age 21), Lukes (age 23), Peter (age 24), Grandpa (age 25), and Una (age 26), are actually just 5 of Denroy's 27 children. Before moving back to Jamaica, the Morgan Family was based in Brooklyn, New York. All the children were educated in Springfield, Massachussetts, and returned home on weekends to practice in their father's studio. "Springfield is close to the countryside, like Jamaica. We've even had chickens running around our yard in both places."
Peter, Una, Gramps, Lukes, and Mr. Mojo were signed to a major recording contract just after they stepped off the stage at the 1992 Reggae Sunsplash Festival. What they now call their "MCA ordeal," left the young veterans clear about the importance of creative control. "All that glitters is not gold," says Gramps, who playes keyboards and sings in a rich baritone reminiscent of Peter Tosh. "We know that true success is when the word can reach the people freely. That's why I&I love reggae music, because it gives you a chance to speak the truth."
- Rob Kenner